The Secret to Selling More Products (Hint: Don’t Sell Them)
Want to sell more products, get lifelong customers, and create a massive competitive advantage?
Here’s how: Stop selling your products. In fact, don’t sell your products at all.
We’re going to let you in on the best kept ecommerce secret—if your marketing is 100% focused on selling your product, you’re doing it wrong.
This is because your competitive edge is not your product itself. Yes, it’s important to have an amazing product, but this isn’t going to set you apart from the crowd.
In a sea of similar products, your edge is actually your unique brand story. Your story is what sets you apart from others in the same space, eliminating the competition.
Now, it can’t just be any story. It has to be a story that inspires your target customers in a way that makes them take action.
The best ecommerce brands out there know this to be true. They each have a great story and a strong purpose that resonates with their audience, and this story guides all of their marketing efforts. Afterall, people don’t buy facts—they buy emotions.
In this article, we’ll share our method for scaling your marketing where purpose and story (not your product) are at the center. We call it the Story Selling Framework, and it will help you to dial in your own story so you can start selling more products.
Why is your brand’s story so important?
This may seem counterintuitive, but when a customer purchases from you, your products are not what they’re ultimately buying. They’re actually buying your brand and unique story.
That’s why it’s so important to tell your brand’s story in a way that establishes an emotional connection with your customers. Customers are going to be much more likely to purchase your product if they can connect with your “why,” your reason for existing.
Once you’ve defined your brand story, it should be used to clarify your message everywhere: your marketing funnels, advertisements, site content, emails… anywhere you communicate with customers! Consider the brands you can’t help but love, like Apple and Southwest Airlines, and you’ll realize they do this well.
1 800 Contacts is a great example of a business that is doing this well within a commoditized market. Their product is no different than what you can buy at your nearest wholesaler, but they have attracted brand fans with their relatable and funny marketing. Check out the copy and design of their site, and you’ll see that they are communicating a clear and consistent message that is friendly, simple, and fun.
The Story Selling Framework for Ecommerce: How to Sell in Reverse
To dial in your brand’s story, we’ve created a five-step framework that asks key questions about your brand and your audience:
1. Understand identity
Who are you?
As you consider your answer to this question, identify your unique purpose that no one else can claim. Ask yourself what your brand is about. Why are you in business, making this specific set of products? (Hint: to make money is not a good enough answer!)
Note: Your answer to this question doesn’t have to be emotional. Consider Bounty paper towels—they are known by their tag line, “the quicker-picker-upper.” Their brand story may not draw tears, but it’s compelling enough to make parents reach for them at the grocery store.
Who are your customers?
Identify the type of person who will relate to your story. To do this, we recommend creating customer avatars to flesh out the full details of your targeted customers. Avatars are profiles that go beyond basic demographics such as gender and age; they consider customers’ potential interests, hobbies, values, and favorite brands.
Most importantly, you’ll need to identify your potential customers’ pain points. What is going on in their life that would make them need your product? This may require some market research to know for sure, especially if you’re a new brand.
2. Sell the heart
How does your brand help your customers?
You’ve identified your ideal customers and their pain points (why they need you). Now, you need to consider why your specific brand will resonate with these unique customers.
If you want to emotionally connect with your customers, you’ll need to have a strong “why,” or purpose, behind your story. Ask yourself: Can my customers relate to my story? Does my purpose connect with theirs on some level?
Since this is a bit abstract, we’ll share an example from one of our clients, JoySpring Vitamins. JoySpring was founded by parents who noticed a need for all-natural vitamin supplements for children. They weren’t quick to give their kids prescriptions, and they realized that many vitamins are loaded with sugar and other unhealthy ingredients. They set out to formulate products that other health-conscious parents could trust and that kids would love. Their “why” is a passion for natural alternatives that will support healthy children, and their audience comes to them with the same “why” in mind.
Why is your product important to your customers?
Once you’ve identified why your brand will resonate with your customers, you need to develop your promised solution. What is your brand’s promise to relieve their pain points, or simply improve their life?
It’s likely that other products out there already offer just as good of a solution for your customers. This is why a promise—often in the form of guarantees or warranties—is so critical to stand out from the crowd. For more on this, check out How to Make Your Ecommerce Company Stand Out In A Sea Of Competitors.
3. Sell the mind
What are the facts that build a logical case for your brand?
An important part of converting customers and selling more products is checking the logic box in the customer’s mind. Offering an amazing product is a great place to start, but there are several criteria that must be met in order for your product to be a “good fit” for your customers. To make sure that evidence-based facts play a role in your story, ask yourself the following questions:
- How do the features of your product specifically address your customers’ pain points?
- Are your products priced correctly? Can your target audience afford your product?
- Are your products effective? Do you have plenty of positive testimonials and reviews?
How will you help your customers take action?
We’ve discussed this before and it still holds true: Humans are procrastinators. It is difficult to convince a visitor that they need your product today, but it’s your job to tackle that challenge.
How? With an offer they can’t refuse!
Here are the three keys to an irresistible offer:
- Price: The customer should feel like they’re getting something extremely valuable for a great deal.
- Risk-reversal: Make their purchase as risk-free as possible. Offer a money-back guarantee, if it’s right for your brand, as well as excellent customer service.
- Urgency: Utilize a short-term promotion or scarcity messaging to establish a sense of urgency.
4. Build relationships
How will you build relationships with customers?
You wouldn’t ever ask someone to marry you after a first date, right? In the same way, don’t expect a new customer to purchase on their first site visit. Instead, create opportunities for smaller conversion actions that introduce the customer to your brand.
For example, you might encourage a new customer to share a Facebook ad, read a helpful piece of content, sign up for your newsletter, or download a free offer. These relationship-building steps are known as the customer journey, and the road ends with a purchase!
5. Create fans
How will you turn a customer into a fan?
Your work is not over once a customer makes a purchase. That’s just the beginning! The number one secret to ecommerce success is increasing your customers’ lifetime value, making sure they purchase more than once.
Customers purchase once… fans come back again and again, and they spread the word about your brand. Turning customers into fans is mission-critical, so be sure to check out our post on this topic, The Holy Grail of Ecommerce Success: Creating Lifelong Brand Fans.
What is your plan for non-purchasers?
No matter how great your brand story is, you won’t win them all. For that reason, put a plan in place for how you will continue to cultivate relationships with those who aren’t customers or fans.
For those who have subscribed to your emails, this could look like sending content emails that are uniquely written for non-purchasers, sharing more about the “why” behind your brand. (You could even use email to ask this group for feedback!) For those who have clicked through your ads but haven’t purchased yet, use retargeting to retell your story in a different light.
The goal is to build these relationships so that those who have engaged with your brand eventually become purchasers. But of course, if it’s just not the right fit, know when to let them go.
Examples of Brands that Sell Story-First
Stories have the power to transform companies into relatable brands. Let’s take a quick look at how one of our clients accomplished this, as well as our own approach to Metacake’s brand story.
Groove Life began its business by offering a better silicone ring than other brands on the market. It actually came from a story with plenty of heart and soul, but no one knew it at first.
Groove’s team had to dig deep and explore their “why.” In doing so, they dialed in a message around living a life of adventure that uniquely communicated their passion for their business, which resonated with their audience.
Once they identified and communicated their story, it became the sticky factor that took their business to the next level of growth.
We sell ecommerce services and educational resources to those who are looking to take their business to the next level of growth. We are good at what we do, and we achieve great results for our clients. But there are other teams and agencies out there that do the same thing.
So what differentiates us from other teams out there? Our “why.” We like to say that we have one goal: to grow Brands that Matter. By that, we mean that we partner with brands that offer great products and want to better the world through their business. This mission is why our clients work with us and is what sets us apart.
What’s your story?
Developing the framework for your brand’s story will require your team to dig deep. But in the long run, this work is so important for building trust with your customers, outshining the competition, and de-commoditizing your product in a saturated market.
Remember, if you Tell More you’ll Sell More.